Sunday, November 27, 2011

Another Look at Alexander Mitchell Palmer

The Times Leader’s recent story, written by Tom Mooney, examines local history, particularly the influence of Democrat politician A. Mitchell Palmer.

The story runs through Palmer’s life. Palmer represented Pennsylvania’s 26th Congressional District and was so involved in Democratic politics that he not only was vice-chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) but also was later asked to help write the Democratic 1932 and 1936 Democratic Party platforms. The 1932 Platform is best to examine for policy since the 1936 platform, as most re-election platforms, was more a narrative in support of the President than a real policy statement.

Palmer was a progressive. He grew dissatisfied with the old guard establishment in the Democratic Party and assisted in a political coup to lead other like-minded politicians and the Democratic Party to the left. Dragging Palmer out at a time like this is particularly timely since that is exactly what has happened with today’s Democrats, but in a far more leftist direction.

The 1932 Democratic Party Platform was written at a bad time for America. Unemployment was high, foreign trade was wrecked, and poverty was wide-spread. Today, we face many of the same problems so it is particularly illustrative to look at what the progressive left, represented by Palmer, of 1932 and 1936 saw as viable solutions to our problems and compare them to what the average Democrat today believes.

The 1932 Democratic platform called for “drastic change in economic governmental policies.” That is a rather benign statement that could meet any party’s or any “wing’s” belief but it is poignant in so far as it shows that clearly, major change was necessary.

It demanded “an immediate and drastic reduction of governmental expenditures … to accomplish a saving of not less than twenty-five per cent in the cost of the Federal Government.” It also favored “maintenance of the national credit by a federal budget annually balanced…” The Cut Cap and Balance Act of 2011 is the only piece of legislation that comes close to these goals yet, it was widely opposed by both Congressional Democrats and the President. The Democrat-controlled Senate refused to even allow the bill to come to a vote.

It called for the “removal of government from all fields of private enterprise except where necessary to develop public works and natural resources in the common interest.” Today’s Democrats have forced the government takeover of our healthcare system, injected the federal government (with the support of President Bush) into the auto-industry with their bailouts of automotive companies, instituted auto bailout 2.0 with “cash for clunkers,” pushed a “too big to fail” system for our lending industry where the government steps in to save failing private banks and insurers, etc.

Today’s Democrats are in direct opposition to Palmer’s Democrats of 1932 and that says a lot since FDR was part of that group.

The one point of the 1936 Democratic Party Platform that we will touch on is its strong language against communism and fascism. It contains the statement “…we are determined to oppose equally, the despotism of Communism and the menace of concealed Fascism.”

Communism is viewed by Marxists as a developmental stage of Marxism. Communism is an ideology that sweeps across the spectrum of social, political, and economic ideology that seeks a government run economy that is moneyless, without personal property to speak of, and is fueled by revolutionary thought.

Today’s Democratic activists embrace communism. The most energetic wing of the Democratic Party is the Occupy Wall Street protesters. President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and others have voiced their public support of the movement even though it is outwardly Marxist. Even the DCCC, the organization Palmer acted as Vice-Chair of, supports this Marxist group.

What would Palmer think if he traveled to New York and saw Marxist flags adorning Zuccotti Park? As the Times Leader story describes, Palmer sought to either imprison or deport people that had these philosophies. What would Palmer think of Communists, that were also members of President Obama’s campaign organization, marching in Chicago? What would Palmer think of his Democratic Party’s leaders joining with the Communist Party USA, the Revolutionary Communist Party, Socialist Party USA, Communist Party of China, or the Marxist Student Union, to support an anarchist group like the folks at Occupy in the United States?

Looking to Palmer’s Democrats and comparing them to today’s Democrats is a great benchmark for how far left today’s Democratic Party has swung. Palmer’s Platform called for policies decried by today’s Democrats and advocated by today’s Republicans.

Not sure what that says about today’s Republicans, but we can save that one for later.

The point is, by all measures, Palmer was a man that was a “modern liberal” or “progressive” in Pennsylvania. He was the left-wing of his time. He was a man that challenged the party bosses to pull the Democrats to the left. He was a man that embraced FDR with all the trimmings. And he was nothing at all like today’s Democrats. In fact, if Palmer, a left-wing radical of his day, saw the direction his party went now he would be apoplectic. He would be hard-pressed to recognize any vestiges of his beloved Democratic Party when looking at today's Democratic Party.

Palmer led the charge against communism from what was the progressive left of his day. If he were here today, he would be leading the charge against the Occupiers and their Democratic cohorts from the center.

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